The popular cholesterol-controlling drug, Statins, has been found to be effective in preventing the spread of breast cancer, a new study has found.
According to the study conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, statins do not prevent cancer from occurring but it helps in stopping breast cancer cells from spreading to other organs. The study performed in human cells and mice found the drug prevent tumors spreading to the lungs and liver thus preventing death.
For the purpose of the study, the research team used mice that were genetically engineered to develop breast cancer. They gave the mice between 2 mg and 10 mg per kg doses of atrovastatin, close to the equivalent of the 20 and 80 mg pills taken by humans.
It was found that the statins, which were injected into the mice, had no effect on primary breast cancers, the location where tumors originate. But, the effect was not the same in metastasis, the stage at which cancer spreads to a different part of the body from where it started.
The research found that the drug limited the life-threatening process and stopped the spread of the tumor to the lungs and liver, so much it became clinically insignificant. The results were almost the same when the researchers introduced a human breast cancer cell to a liver cell.
“These effects are significant for several reasons,” said study author Dr. Alan Wells, a professor of pathology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “First, the doses of atorvastatin used are similar to those used for moderate-intensity lipid-lowering therapy in clinical patients. Second, we found a divergent effect of atorvastatin on breast cancer cells. While the primary tumor cells were unaffected by statin treatment, the metastatic cells were suppressed.”
Researchers are hoping that the breakthrough may also lead to statins being used to treat other tumors. The drug could be used in combination with chemotherapy drugs to cure the disease.
The research study has been published in the British Journal of Cancer.